Need a Developer Q&A to Address the Real Problem - Misleading Communications

edited August 17 in The Bridge
TL;DR: Communication is the real problem here. Issues will crop up in any complicated game, that's understandable. But DB handles these issues badly, reacting first with silence. When that makes things worse, they try to mislead. We must break out of this pattern if the game is to survive. A great first step, a true sign of good faith, would be a real, open Q&A with developers ASAP. Next week.


We've seen several bugs over the past few months, with varying reactions from this forum. Most everyone focuses on the object level, how and if the bugs are resolved, whether the resolution or compensation for the bug is sufficient. But bugs will happen in any game and will be resolved (or turned into "features") one way or another. The bugs aren't the problem, the resolutions aren't even the problem. The real problem threatening the game is that people who have spent significant sums of money cannot get answers to simple questions. Even worse, the limited explanations we are given are disingenuous, at best:

  • Shuttle AND bug was documented, reported, and (maybe, probably) fixed without ever being acknowledged. The fix was rolled out with language about changing the shuttle rewards screen.

  • Developers create a new event type, Skirmishes, that are overpowered and all but require macros to win. When the community points out that the winners obviously did use macros, DB introduces a force-logoff message. They also released a statement about macro usage at the same time. But they refused to acknowledge the obvious, that the force-logoff was an anti-macro tool.

  • Polywater Yar was released with game-breaking statistics that would dominate the arena and the upcoming skirmish event. This one is hard to defend given that the character was so obviously overpowered, but all through the the event and the first part of the week, DB said nothing. When Monday rolled around with no word of a nerf, and DB even added a new pack with Yar in it, players understood this to be the new normal and bought in. Then literally the hour the packs were expiring, DB nerfed the card, seemingly without considering recommended alternatives (preventing duplicates in ship battles).

  • Ru'afo, where DB re-writes the past to cover for an otherwise understandable bug. I won't rehash the issue here except to say that if DB goes through with this change for the next skirmish event, the extra steps to find the right event crew after each battle will give another advantage to the macros.

DB's lack of communication is hard to explain. It's not like they're actually keeping a secret in any of these cases. Everyone on this company-hosted forum understands that the logoff messages are an anti-macro tool, that the AND bug existed and was fixed. But their failure to acknowledged the obvious has a cost; it's easy to see in Yar's case where people are seeking (and getting!) refunds. This would have been prevented if DB had simply admitted the obvious last Friday, "Fair warning, Yar's ship ability was a mistake and we're going to correct it before the next event." DB's silence has cost them thousands of dollars.

Each issue was an understandable mistake, where players could mitigate the effects to some degree. But each solution is haphazard, often at cross purposes to the others, and never honestly communicated. This has to end. Let me be clear, I'm not criticizing anyone individually, but DB's moderators aren't developers, and can't answer our questions if DB doesn't give them information. I've played for about a year and I'm at the end of my rope. Others in my fleet are as well. I enjoy this game and want it to continue, but obviously we can't go on like this. Every company has to communicate with its customers. Those that don't drive people away.


So we need to change DB's communications culture. That's always hard, and can't happen overnight. But in these sorts of situations, a policy change needs to come paired with a big gesture, something that draws a line between the old culture and the new one. If done right, this isn't even an apology or an adversarial situation, the right move would benefit both DB and the player base.

I think the first step has to be a real developer Q&A. Not the one from six months ago with pre-screened questions submitted a month in advance, but a real-time open forum with all good-faith questions visible. (Obviously with tempers running high, some transparent moderation would be necessary.) We will all have to understand that DB won't be able to answer every question; we'll have to accept "I can't get into the details" as an answer on things like the anti-macro steps. But the open forum will make it obvious if DB ducks things they should be able to discuss, like the shuttle AND bug.

What's the harm in trying? This would cost nothing and would help show that DB is serious about reversing this trend. If DB is not willing to take this step to restore some trust... that may be the last honest message they ever send.

JohnofCharleston (AA)
(VIP 14)
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Comments

  • Do you know any other games that do this?
    The Guardians of Tomorrow
    Protecting the Galaxy's Future from itself
    Chief Intelligence Officer
  • Do you know any other games that do this?

    I play a couple of other games and one is just out of beta and the community manager and sometimes a dev or two do a live twitch stream every Friday. That game is bugged like you wouldn't believe, but they show that they are doing their best to fix them. They don't have loot boxes so it's not a fair comparison. I play another game that doesn't have as many bugs as STT and the devs communicate monthly. Non of their issues come close to the back door shenanigans like with the AND issue or Pecardgate or Yar or Ra'ufo. The silence here is deafening.
  • edited August 17
    Do you know any other games that do this?

    Most Indie studios do to one extent or another. Their fanbase and longevity are usually a function of how communicative they are. Paradox is the model that comes to mind, Devs write forum posts every week or two about what they're working on, and answer follow-up questions in the thread. They're open about the process, and that it is a process:
    • "Here's the mechanic we've settled on but we're still playing around with the values so it's not unbalanced."
    • "You guys found an exploit based on a feature in our last release and we're going to address it, not sure how yet."
    • "We're not sure how [new feature] will interact with [existing feature] yet but we're trying out some ideas."

    You'll occasionally get people disagreeing with decisions devs made, or pointing out that they predicted a balance issue that the devs minimized, that sort of thing, but there's never the assumption of bad faith that you see on this forum. More futurama "take my money" gifs, fewer "do better" puns.

    Here's an example, from this week... this is what counts as a contentious issue. Notice the developer (an actual scripter) comes in to the thread to talk about the reasoning behind a change. Notice the "filter by dev responses" button in the forum, to facilitate that sort of conversation. Notice that they don't just have a "like" button for posts, they have a tongue-in-cheek "respectfully disagree" button too. If you want to blow your mind, notice that the "respectfully disagree" button is enabled for dev replies, and that the likes outnumber the dislikes about 5:1.
    https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/why-the-balance-change-for-missionaries.1114634/&sdpDevPosts=1

    The format isn't important, it doesn't necessarily need to be on this forum, though that's a good place to start. It just needs to be some sort of open format where it's difficult to ignore a reasonable question. There are reasons they'll have to refuse to answer some questions, and (most) everyone gets that. But the current communications strategy has poisoned the well here, that's what DB needs to change.
  • AviTrek wrote: »
    DB used to do a live stream too. We got previews of events and new event types. It was really fun. Then they stopped that. Then they fired the people who ran them. Then they cut back on announcements. And now this. DB's credibility and transparency makes politicians look good.

    I've been thinking a lot about this these last 24 hrs. After the first DB Do Better campaign, they did do better. There was more communication. More information about events. Then they fired half the staff and released a new game. It all went to heck in a handbasket and just keeps getting worse. It's really sad.
    I've also been wondering how much of the playerbase doesn't even come to the forum and just spends blindly. Does DB think that we are just a small sample size of the playerbase that it just doesn't matter? If we all stopped spending, would it even put a dent in their bottom line? Is that why we just get the brush off?
  • edited August 17
    I've also been wondering how much of the playerbase doesn't even come to the forum and just spends blindly. Does DB think that we are just a small sample size of the playerbase that it just doesn't matter? If we all stopped spending, would it even put a dent in their bottom line? Is that why we just get the brush off?

    There's a big difference between reading and posting. Most forum threads get a few dozen replies, but several thousand views. The information from this forum also gets re-posted in fleet chats pretty quick. So a small portion of the player-base is posting, but most everyone who spends money gets this information one way or another.

    Case in point, the new event announcement was not at the usual time. It's been up 20 minutes, has fewer than 20 replies... but 300+ views.

    I don't think anyone else from my fleet has posted on the forum about Ruf or Yar, but they're definitely listening.
  • JeanLucKirkJeanLucKirk ✭✭✭
    edited August 17
    I've also been wondering how much of the playerbase doesn't even come to the forum and just spends blindly.

    Does DB think that we are just a small sample size of the playerbase that it just doesn't matter?

    Many.

    Don´t know about the don´t matter thing, but yes as to the small sample size. Shan mentioned that many times. And it is obvious even without that.

    From time to time a fresh face appears, but mainly you see the same few people posting all the time here (of course there are also many peeps who just read).

    Considering how bitter and negative most of these postings are mainly no one could blame DB for not really reacting to so much "hate" and all around DB slashing. But they set enough improvements in motion despite that!

    And well, when a small, overworked team is responsible for a kinda big game mistakes can and will happen. Despite them I mainly enjoy this game. Or I would delete it and move on. Enough games on the market after all.

    Constuctive criticism is fine, without it the game could not improve. But in these forums many find delight in simply kicking DB in the n... as often as they can, lol.

    Otherwise they would move on and find a game by a not so "shady" company ;)



  • ByloBandByloBand ✭✭✭✭
    I read this somewhere else and I am not sure who wrote it but it seems applicable here, but IMO part of the communication that would be useful from DB to players is a much better explanation of what event crew bonuses mean. For example, in these skirmish events, when you slap in a Dominion crew into your battle station and it says "bonus", what exactly is getting the bonus? Does it make the shields stronger? Does it add to the hull? Does it boost the ship in some other way? Does it increase chances of getting bonus loot?
  • (HGH)Apollo(HGH)Apollo ✭✭✭✭✭
    Yep it's sad they are turning into kixeye. Anyone who has played a kixeye game knows exactly what I mean. I hope DB turns it around but I have doubts they will.
  • @Shan
    Now that you're back, can you discuss this with the development team? I understand they'll want to get the Polywater Yar issue resolved first, to prevent that topic from dominating the discussion. Once that issue is settled, though, having an open Q&A would go a long way to restoring trust.

    Let me reiterate that the managed forum from earlier this year, with questions screened a month in advance, probably did more harm than good. The benefits from openness only come from actually being open. No one expects the developers will be able to answer every question. Some answers will have to be "we don't know," others "we're still deciding." Some topics, like the corporate management/strategy, may have to be ignored altogether. But it's crucial that all questions be visible (of course, subject to the usual transparent moderation for profanity, etc), so we all know that reasonable technical issues aren't still being ignored.

    If this company won't even answer basic questions about well documented technical issues, such as the AND bug, these problems will not get better.
  • Good luck but if someone has kept a record of every bug, miscommunication or untested design since the beginning can they post it to see how it's best not to get your hopes up.
  • DeanWinsDeanWins ✭✭✭
    edited September 6
    In all fariness to DB, I can't believe I started the sentence that way! but seriously. In regards to the skirmish macro auto, whatever you want to call it thing, DB did take steps to try and prevent that, even if they pretend it was for a different reason and even thou it may not be enough, it was at least an attempt. I also think the entire macro/auto situation is blown a bit out of proportion, I mean macros have existed for a really long time, and probably have been used as long, in fact many games have built in macros for farming etc, so that you do not have to do the same tasks thousands of times, maybe db should consider implementing that in a limited capacity to at least even the playing field. Flame away;) Either way, with the exception of sleep time, I think Paladine? proved that you can actually run skirmishes faster manual then you can on auto anyways, so is the auto advantage so huge? like I said its all relative

    Also, I have played many many of these type of games, and I can say up until recently, DB has made way more effort to help players and communicate then I have experienced in said other games, for example they actually respond to tickets, we may not like the answer, but they do infact respond. I think Customer service has fallen off the last month or two, but maybe that has to do with the reduction of staff. Does this mean we should blindly accept sub-par customer service? No, but I think we should keep things in perspective.
  • PallidynePallidyne ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 6
    DeanWins wrote: »
    In all fariness to DB, I can't believe I started the sentence that way! but seriously. In regards to the skirmish macro auto, whatever you want to call it thing, DB did take steps to try and prevent that, even if they pretend it was for a different reason and even thou it may not be enough, it was at least an attempt. I also think the entire macro/auto situation is blown a bit out of proportion, I mean macros have existed for a really long time, and probably have been used as long, in fact many games have built in macros for farming etc, so that you do not have to do the same tasks thousands of times, maybe db should consider implementing that in a limited capacity to at least even the playing field. Flame away;) Either way, with the exception of sleep time, I think Paladine? proved that you can actually run skirmishes faster manual then you can on auto anyways, so is the auto advantage so huge? like I said its all relative

    Also, I have played many many of these type of games, and I can say up until recently, DB has made way more effort to help players and communicate then I have experienced in said other games, for example they actually respond to tickets, we may not like the answer, but they do infact respond. I think Customer service has fallen off the last month or two, but maybe that has to do with the reduction of staff. Does this mean we should blindly accept sub-par customer service? No, but I think we should keep things in perspective.

    Wasn't me on that front. In fact I believe I argued the opposite, making the analogy of John Henry. Some folks actually showed mathematically how a bot will win in the end due to its endurance and not needing to idle or sleep. Since DBs pop up seems to happen MAYBE once in 24 hours by all accounts on last skirmish, the bot easily wins.

    I spoke on more effective ways to stop macros than a button that comes up in the middle of the screen and doesn't even fire up most of the time, if the last skirmish is any indication.

    That DB communication was hilarious actually, as Riker came on stating it was working fine since folks in the thread said it was when there was a 20 folks saying they never got a prompt and 2 that did over long periods of time in game.

    Customer service is a sine wave with these folks. They do bad, folks yell they do better folks calm down, rinse repeat.
  • PallidynePallidyne ✭✭✭✭✭
    I've also been wondering how much of the playerbase doesn't even come to the forum and just spends blindly.

    Does DB think that we are just a small sample size of the playerbase that it just doesn't matter?

    Many.

    Don´t know about the don´t matter thing, but yes as to the small sample size. Shan mentioned that many times. And it is obvious even without that.

    From time to time a fresh face appears, but mainly you see the same few people posting all the time here (of course there are also many peeps who just read).

    Considering how bitter and negative most of these postings are mainly no one could blame DB for not really reacting to so much "hate" and all around DB slashing. But they set enough improvements in motion despite that!

    And well, when a small, overworked team is responsible for a kinda big game mistakes can and will happen. Despite them I mainly enjoy this game. Or I would delete it and move on. Enough games on the market after all.

    Constuctive criticism is fine, without it the game could not improve. But in these forums many find delight in simply kicking DB in the n... as often as they can, lol.

    Otherwise they would move on and find a game by a not so "shady" company ;)



    How much traction happens when something is brought up politely? Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. Some folks just jump to the pitchforks, but if you've been around enough and can drop off the rose colored glasses, you'll see folks who've been patient, polite, and done their homework to get blown off. Not getting an answer they don't like, but blown off.

    Sometimes DB gets it right and that should also be recognized. Some of these new features are really good ideas and some were ones people have been asking for since 2016 and 2017. That should be recognized. And yes, there are a small minority that even piss on the good features.

    But the vast majority of the negativity here has been earned through not insignificant blunders that most times did get adequate resolutions but only after the torches came out. The first Do Better was a very good example of that, and the entire movement there was simply attempting DB to what? Communicate better.

    Now not saying everyone here is innocent. When the last attempt at a DB movement was essentially hijacked and splintered into a furball due to some folks who overestimated their own importance in the universe and their own intelligence, it showed how far we have to go as a userbase before we can call ourselves saints.

    But we are not the ones here selling a product.
  • Captain Stupid Captain Stupid ✭✭✭
    edited September 6
    Good luck trying to get answers from DB. I applaud your effort and behind you 100%.
    I've been trying to address same issues with Shan and trying to tell her that she (being the mouthpiece of DB Unnecessary comment removed. ˜Shan needs to let everybody know what the "DB team" is up to, to try and fix and rectify these situations. So far, I've got nothing from her and seen very little communication from her about some of the issues.
    I did see her post about Yar, she said "I feel for you, I really do." "But if you feel you need to be compensated in some way escalate your ticket." As to say, will just put you on the backburner and hope you'll forget about it and bored and finally give up because we(DB) can drag this on.
    I also read another thread where this other player got a refund on Yar though Apple Pay, then DB suspended his account and told the player he broke the agreement terms when you signed up for the game.
    It been very slim-shady with DB lately, so I propose a boycott on spending $$, €€, ££, ¥¥, whatever currency you use to buy packs, DYC, etc.. so we can make demands when there reserves are low on funds. Who's with me??
    We can still play the game but if we choke them enough they might come around and start listening to the players more or do the things you suggested like live Q&A and dev talks.
    Let us all try this approach and see what happens. And of course direct players to this thread and spread the word of what we're trying to do.
  • DeanWinsDeanWins ✭✭✭
    Pallidyne wrote: »
    DeanWins wrote: »
    In all fariness to DB, I can't believe I started the sentence that way! but seriously. In regards to the skirmish macro auto, whatever you want to call it thing, DB did take steps to try and prevent that, even if they pretend it was for a different reason and even thou it may not be enough, it was at least an attempt. I also think the entire macro/auto situation is blown a bit out of proportion, I mean macros have existed for a really long time, and probably have been used as long, in fact many games have built in macros for farming etc, so that you do not have to do the same tasks thousands of times, maybe db should consider implementing that in a limited capacity to at least even the playing field. Flame away;) Either way, with the exception of sleep time, I think Paladine? proved that you can actually run skirmishes faster manual then you can on auto anyways, so is the auto advantage so huge? like I said its all relative

    Also, I have played many many of these type of games, and I can say up until recently, DB has made way more effort to help players and communicate then I have experienced in said other games, for example they actually respond to tickets, we may not like the answer, but they do infact respond. I think Customer service has fallen off the last month or two, but maybe that has to do with the reduction of staff. Does this mean we should blindly accept sub-par customer service? No, but I think we should keep things in perspective.

    Wasn't me on that front. In fact I believe I argued the opposite, making the analogy of John Henry. Some folks actually showed mathematically how a bot will win in the end due to its endurance and not needing to idle or sleep. Since DBs pop up seems to happen MAYBE once in 24 hours by all accounts on last skirmish, the bot easily wins.

    I spoke on more effective ways to stop macros than a button that comes up in the middle of the screen and doesn't even fire up most of the time, if the last skirmish is any indication.

    That DB communication was hilarious actually, as Riker came on stating it was working fine since folks in the thread said it was when there was a 20 folks saying they never got a prompt and 2 that did over long periods of time in game.

    Customer service is a sine wave with these folks. They do bad, folks yell they do better folks calm down, rinse repeat.

    Opps sorry I meant the other pally, got the names messed up. The one that won the event last time with the poker games;)
  • edited September 6
    Guys, stay on topic. This thread isn't about boycotts, or insulting anyone individually. This is about whether a company whose product we use will talk to us. If we can get back to open communication, as @DeanWins points out used to be the case, we can resolve issues collaboratively and grow the player base. I'm trying to talk carrots, not sticks.

    Everyone on this board would tell DB that a "dismiss all" button isn't as important as being transparent about the status of bugs that affect events. Yet they put a developer's time into implementing a side feature rather than speaking to us about core functionality. Open communication with developers will help the game. It's in their interests. If they can't see that, it's a larger problem. Leave it there, no threats.

    @Shan I'm sorry some of the replies above got off topic. I saw you moderated. Can you commit to taking this to the developers and letting us know their answer?
  • Data1001Data1001 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Everyone on this board

    "Many people on this board" (heck, I'll even give you "most"). ;)


    Could you please continue the petty bickering? I find it most intriguing.
    ~ Data, ST:TNG "Haven"
  • @Shan

    I can't speak for "everyone", good catch @Data1001. But I can speak for a group of reasonable people with reasonable expectations. I think that's most of us. We're not asking for details on internal operations, we're not asking for the algorithm for the anti-macro tools. We're not asking for more than you should be able to give.

    I keep coming back to the shuttle "AND" bug, because it's the oldest long-standing issue, and the easiest place to make up some ground. Addressing this is the bare minimum of engagement. The community spent time, effort, and in-game resources to document a problem we'd been repeatedly assured wasn't real. The last we heard was that a bug report had been created, back in April. Since then, all you've said is that you have no update.

    We all realize you can't give us information that you don't have. But you should be able to see the status of your own bug report, right? So, what is the status? We believe it's been resolved, can you confirm that?

    This should be an easy win. If the developers won't talk to us, show us that you can be the bridge that we need.
  • Shan wrote: »
    As for rebuilding trust, yes we need to do that, everyone can agree on that. This was actually brought up during a company wide meeting we had today.

    It was only brought up today? What on Earth has been happening for the last weeks and months over #PolyYar and #ANDgate (to name just a few issues)?

    Nothing personal, but your post contains no substance, only words. And we’ve been around this loop several times before.

    Reading between the lines I’m afraid your statement comes across adversarial and passive aggressive. Please stop turning everything around as being a fault of the players. We’re not attacking you or anyone at DB personally, we’re looking for transparent communications and tangible changes that show you’re listening to what we’re repeatedly trying to tell you.


  • DeanWinsDeanWins ✭✭✭
    Shan wrote: »
    As for rebuilding trust, yes we need to do that, everyone can agree on that. This was actually brought up during a company wide meeting we had today.

    I cannot give you specifics on how we plan to do that, but it is on the forefront of our goals.
    It is of course your choice whether or not you are still willing to stick around to see us make that a reality, and it will clearly not happen overnight.
    Shan, no offense to you personally, but I have to say this. We have seen the same pattern of behavior over and over and over again:

    - DB makes a decision or takes an action than a five year old could predict would go badly, and we have to wonder how the decision could possibly have made it through QA / a process review meeting

    - When the easily predictable response occurs, DB then denies theres an issue / says this is the way it was meant to be all along / blames misunderstanding on the players / claims it's the players imagination or biased perception

    - When exhaustive evidence is provided / large-scale outrage is evident, either a solution is refused, or, if provided is clearly unsatisfactory / delivered so late and so sullenly that providing the solution often causes more ill-will than the initial problem

    - DB promises to "do better" / be more open / communicate better / listen more / make sure something like this never happens again

    - only to have another easily predictable / avoidable problem happen the next week

    Now, considering how many times this cycle has happened, and with what frequency, I ask you:

    In all seriousness, just HOW MANY TIMES do you expect us to give you the benefit of the doubt, to give you a second chance?

    "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me two dozen times, shame on..."

    wow that was really well written, and very eloquent, also remind me not to get on your badside lol. You make many good points;)
  • The sad fact of the matter is, as far as I know, Shan is the community manager for the forums and handles the online PR. Community managers are always extremely limited in what they can actually do. Every CM I've worked with in the past grew very frustrated with their inability to bring about any actual change as the desicions came from way above their pay grade and they simply had to resign themselves to the messenger role.
  • PallidynePallidyne ✭✭✭✭✭
    The sad fact of the matter is, as far as I know, Shan is the community manager for the forums and handles the online PR. Community managers are always extremely limited in what they can actually do. Every CM I've worked with in the past grew very frustrated with their inability to bring about any actual change as the desicions came from way above their pay grade and they simply had to resign themselves to the messenger role.

    As a former community manager for a hardware manufacturer, I have to say, it's also disheartening when the messenger's messages are ignored and deflected.
  • Shan wrote: »
    - JazzRiker and I will continue to address your concerns and provide updates to the best of our abilities while taking into account the resources we have.

    I'm afraid the (forum) community's consensus is that either (1) your abilities are severely lacking, or (2) this should have said "the best we are allowed."

    I'd like to think the latter is the case, but the longer this goes on the more I have to take the former into consideration.
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